Former member believes theatre board acted wrongly

Published 11:36 am Friday, April 28, 2017

It is with much sadness that I feel compelled to write this, but I believe the recent decision by the Brookhaven Little Theatre’s current Board of Directors to, in essence, “fire” an eight-year-old child several hours preceding the Saturday night show from the current production of “Mary Poppins” is appalling.

Okay, I have an agenda. The child in question is my grandson. He and his brother, along with my daughter, were all cast last January to begin rehearsals for this show. Costumes were bought and many, many hours were spent at the theatre for practice. But since a child cannot address such concerns himself, a family member has to become an advocate for said child.

The ultimate problem appears to be that there was not a plan for supervision in place for a production which used a lot of children. It should be noted that in the world of community theatre, incorporating a lot of children in any production will most assuredly guarantee sizable audiences which, in turn, generate strong ticket sales. Family members turn out in droves to support their little ones, and it is usually a happy occasion for all involved. I, myself, “checked in” to BLT on Facebook because I was excited and wanted to share that my own family members were to be on stage which, in turn, was “liked” by 61 friends, with a good many congratulatory comments as well. I dare say a high turnout won’t be because of a new projection system nor how well the adults remember all their lines and blocking.

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As stated, I was in attendance with my family on Friday night when my grandson in his tiny but bold march exited the stage after his scene by veering slightly in the wrong direction, but then quickly correcting his steps. The manner in which it played out could have very well been perceived to having been planned that way from the get-go, as we definitely heard chuckles of amusement from those sitting near us in the audience. When he suddenly appeared in the very next scene in the “fog,” I firmly attribute this to the lack of supervision that should have been in place as any child came off the stage.

I will say this — I think one would be hard-pressed to find any unbiased audience member who felt the show was compromised by the mistakes of a child.

Were any of the young dancers asked to leave for being out of step? I don’t think so. Were any of the sound people let go for having to adjust the mic volume after an actor had already begun speaking/singing? I think not. Why? Because BLT is a community theatre and those sorts of mishaps are very politely and kindly overlooked.

Unfortunately, this was not the case for a very precocious little boy who is very much loved by his family, who were suddenly put in the position of providing comfort and wiping his tears when a text was received late Saturday afternoon that he should not return to the show. It was at this point that his mother, heartbreakingly, decided that neither she nor his brother would continue with the production. Honestly, can you blame her? Incidentally, the “bank” scene in Act 2 that he and his brother were in along with several other children went very smoothly, in my observation.

In conclusion, I feel it necessary to advise that I first became involved with BLT back in the ’80s and, besides being an actor in many wonderful productions over the past 25 years, I also served on the Board in every capacity except Treasurer, including that of Executive Director. I am a proud recipient of our theatre’s esteemed John Landress Award.

I have helped with the Membership Party and related skits. And I, along with others, spent many hours at The Haven in years past with many refurbishing projects, including painting the walls in the lobby, on some occasions into the wee hours of the morning. To imply that I have not had a deep commitment to the growth and continuing success of our remarkable community theatre would be ludicrous.

That being said, however, the actions that were directed toward a child by this particular Board were just shameful. And wrong. Thank you.

Lynn Campbell